By Glazyl Masculino
BACOLOD CITY – As many as 15 armed men believed to be New People’s Army (NPA) members barged Wednesday into a barangay hall in Manjuyod, Negros Oriental, where the village officials and residents were meeting, the military reported
Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde) commander, said the rebels did not harm anyone but took the village chief’s handheld radio, and several cellular phones.
Arevalo said the armed group stayed for more than an hour at the Manjuyod barangay hall.
It was market day and some residents there were listening to barangay officials discussed the proposed barangay identification (ID) card system to determine those who are really residents of the village, Arevalo said.
Police were ready to respond but the military officials dissuaded them, fearing they could be walking into an ambush set up by the rebels.
Instead, the military troops conducted pursuit operations, Arevalo said.
The rebels’ intrusion into the barangay came on the heels of the Army’s discovery of an NPA bomb-making factory in Sipalay City over the weekend.
Arevalo said it was a desperation move by the rebels because the factory was a big loss.
After the barangay hall incident, Arevalo said he reached out to the villagers and proposed a system for the immediate reporting of such cases.
He said there was no need to deploy troops because Manjuyod is not considered rebel-infested.
Though the incident alarmed the people, the situation in the village has returned to normal, he said.